SW Legal studies in Business

A Corporation Is a “Person” for Purposes of a Trust
Description

Appeals court held that where a banking account was held “in trust” for The Salvation Army, it would be presumed that Florida law meant for “persons” named in such trust accounts to include corporations.

Topic Wills, Estates, and Trusts
Key Words

Estate; Trust; Beneficiary; Corporation; Person

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Belanger died intestate. He had two sons. One was appointed personal representative of his father’s estate.  The deceased had a bank account held in his name with a pay-on-death clause that stated: “Richard J. Belanger, In Trust for The Salvation Army.” The Salvation Army was given the funds from the account by the bank. The estate sued, contending that the pay-on-death clause was invalid because it could only apply to a natural person, not to a corporation such as The Salvation Army. The district court dismissed the suit. The estate appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Under Florida law, a corporation qualifies as a “person” permitted to be a lawful beneficiary of a pay-on-death account. The statute uses the word “person,” but that is generally interpreted at law to include corporations.

Citation

Belanger v. The Salvation Army, 556 F.3d 1153 (11th Cir., 2009)

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